There’s a very special treat coming to The Civic on March 26th. For fans of Studio Ghibli or animated fables in general, the accolades behind The Red Turtle should whet your appetite for the coming film. A voiceless narrative following the life of a castaway who meets an unusually attentive sea turtle on a deserted island, The Red Turtle is a joint venture between Wild Bunch and Studio Ghibli. It was directed by Dutch-British animator Michaël Dudok de Wit and produced by Toshio Suzuki from Japan. Premiering in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, it was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 89th Academy Awards. The response to the film has been overwhelmingly positive, and The Red Turtle has received critical acclaim across the board.
De Wit is less well-known in Canada than his Japanese counterparts, and although The Red Turtle was produced by Studio Ghibli it was actually animated by the French studio Prima Linea Productions. But for those who have seen other Ghibli features such as Howl’s Moving Castle or Spirited Away, the studio’s signature attention to detail, use of color to convey mood, and the gentle, almost aching simplicity with which they construct their scenes is readily apparently, winding its way across the entire film like a brand. The idea of nature as a character unto itself—and the subtext of being in harmony with nature, a common theme throughout Ghibli films—is also readily apparent. The ocean in The Red Turtle is a beautiful display of Earth’s ingenuity that will far outlast us, and the movie manages to convey this in the straightforward form of a fable.
~ Shianne Edelmayer is a freelance illustrator and writer based in Nelson, BC